Vinyl Classics: The Smashing Pumpkins – Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness
Every record collector has one or more albums on their wantlist that are missing from their collection, making it feel incomplete. The quest for that holy grail leads you through second-hand sections of record stores or across flea markets time and time again. Sometimes the hunt ends rather unspectacularly with the release of a reissue. Thanks to the recent multitude of anniversary editions, more and more classics that were once unaffordable are suddenly available on vinyl – sometimes even for the first time. In the last couple of months I have been able to add long sought-after albums by The Weakerthans, Days Of The New, The Van Pelt or german crossover legends Thumb to my record collection.
Even the vinyl bootlegs were quite expensive
Until recently one of the biggest gaps in my collection was the absence of the magnum opus of the Smashing Pumpkins. Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness. The original pressing had already been sold for a four-figure sum and the rare repressings that followed were also quite expensive. Even the bootleg versions were consistently offered at steep prices, but I wasn’t willing to settle for such an edition, as a low-quality vinyl pressing wouldn’t do justice to this masterpiece. Buying it just for the sake of having it in my collection simply wasn’t an option. Fortunately, the wait is over now, as the album has finally been reissued on vinyl for the german market as well (see below).
1995. The year after Kurt Cobain died. The grunge wave was slowly receding, making way for the emergence of Britpop (the Battle of Britpop between Oasis and Blur temporarily dominated the headlines of music magazines). Alanis Morissette embarked on her triumphant journey through the global charts with her still fantastic album “Jagged Little Pill.” Alternative rock was on everyone’s lips with new albums from Sonic Youth, Life Of Agony, Kyuss, Foo Fighters, Faith No More or – staying in Germany – the brilliantly offbeat debut of Tocotronic. As someone who was musically coming of age during that time, The Smashing Pumpkins’ album struck a chord. The videos for “Bullet With Butterfly Wings,” “Tonight, Tonight,” or “1979” (MTV was actually the primary source for discovering music back then) left a lasting impression in my mind.
Two hours without any weak spots
In an era dominated by streaming, where the listening habits of a majority of music fans are governed by short attention spans, an album spanning more than two hours seems almost unimaginable. The Smashing Pumpkins and frontman Billy Corgan seem completely unfazed by this trend, as their latest album “ATUM (A Rock Opera In Three Acts)” consists of 33 songs and clocks in at over 2 hours of playtime. Unfortunately, it doesn’teven come close to the quality of Mellon Collie. To this day I haven’t managed to listen to their latest album in its entirety.
This is in stark contrast to the band’s 1995 classic. While playing the four vinyl records that make up the album, there’s never a sense that there’s even a single weak point that one might consider skipping on subsequent listens. Despite the immense stylistic variety that seamlessly blends various forms of guitar music (whether it’s grunge, alternative rock, prog or metal), there isn’t a single misstep here. “Each song has its justification,” as aptly put by Kai Wehmeier in his review for plattentests.de. Without any doubt the band was at the peak of its creativity back then and produced a masterpiece that belongs in the rock pantheon.
Finally reissued as a high-quality 4LP box set
At the beginning of August ‘Mellon Collie And the Infinite Sadness’ was reissued in UK and europe as a 4LP box set. Despite the price ranging between 120 and 140 euros (depending on the record store), I clicked the pre-order button without hesitation. I’ve never come close to spending this much money on a vinyl before. Yet, after so many years, this gap in my collection had to be finally closed.
The anticipation was accordingly high. The excitement before unpacking the package was just as palpable. Would the presentation of the box justify the price? The simple answer: Yes! Without a doubt… Barely out of the package and the protective wrapping, the entire box set exudes a very premium and sturdy feel. Each LP is not only housed in a printed inner sleeve but also in an additional cover with artwork that complements the album cover. In addition to the vinyl records, the box includes a book with the lyrics to all songs and another book with artworks and photos related to the album. Both are stylishly designed and seamlessly integrate into the high-quality presentation of the box set, which undeniably lives up to the high standard of this masterpiece. Fans should definitely get their hands on this, as a more affordable version won’t be hitting the market anytime soon.
The Smashing Pumpkins – Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness